Though Rick Hansen considers Virginia Lecoy and Gordon Modeste heroes, the Esquimalt Nation residents shy away from that description.
Still, they epitomize the power of helping others overcome obstacles to make dreams come true – a quality Hansen applauded during a visit to Ogden Point.
Hansen’s stops in Victoria and at CFB Esquimalt on Tuesday and Oak Bay on Wednesday coincide with the 25th anniversary of his Man In Motion World Tour.
A medal relay, which began in Newfoundland and Labrador last August, is passing through 600 communities, which Hansen wheeled through on his Canadian tour 25 years ago. He didn’t pass through Victoria then, but is making a point of visiting as many provincial capital cities as possible before the relay ends in Vancouver on May 22.
During his visit, Hansen presented Difference Maker medals to several individuals who have helped make the world more accessible and inclusive, and are supporting efforts to find a cure for people with spinal cord injuries.
Hansen, who lost the use of his legs at 15 after he was thrown from the back of a pickup truck that crashed, said he has been pleasantly surprised by the stories of people, especially youth, who are making a difference.
“What it makes me realize is that a whole new generation (is) being nurtured in that sense of responsibility, and that this generation is very compassionate, caring and capable and they work locally, nationally and globally,” the Richmond resident said. “And that makes you proud to be Canadian.”
Lecoy and Modeste wore their medals proudly.
As an education administrator at Esquimalt Nation, Lecoy, 24, runs camps, a breakfast program and helps youth reach their potential in school.
Her work has allowed her to better connect with her community and her family, she said.
“The kids have taught me to be cool again,” Lecoy said, smiling.
Modeste, 70, is an Esquimalt Nation elder and business owner who sponsors athletic teams in his community.
Youth need to be able to access sports to learn important team-building skills, he said.
“Team sports is important as you grow up,” Modeste said.
Other medal recipients from the region included Petty Officer 1st class Cliff Rose, who helps injured personnel at CFB Esquimalt access services to further their recovery, and Saanich teen Jeneece Edroff, who has raised more than $8 million for special projects, including Jeneece Place.
With Dunsmuir middle school students looking on at Ogden Point, Jaxson Creasey was also honoured. The Metchosin resident, with the help of his school, has raised more than $13,000 for Canuck House in Vancouver, which provides pediatric palliative care.
Since the relay began, the event has allowed Hansen to recognize those who have helped further his dream of finding a cure for paralysis from spinal cord injury.
“This is a tour of gratitude and then (of) inspiration for the future, because we still have a long way to go,” he said.
For details, visit www.rickhansenrelay.com.